McKeon: Not My Fault that My Brick Township Easement’s Unsigned
Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) cites an information gap as his reason for being one of roughly 50 Brick Township property owners standing in the way of an Army Corps project for an 11-mile continuous protective dune.
His status came to light during a dialogue with Brick Township Mayor Steve Acropolis, who has set an August 1 deadline for all access easements to be signed and delivered. Homeowners who fail to comply will likely see their property undergo condemnation proceedings.
The easements are a requirement set by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in order to give the Army Corps clearance to build the dune on sections of privately-owned beachfront land, and to return periodically to maintain them.
Acropolis has conjectured that some homeowners fear a private-enterprise incursion to expand the municipality's commerce base, an observation also given by Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher.
Both have also suggested that, based on a $375,000 award to a Harvey Cedars couple who claimed property value depreciation, some holdouts might be angling for a big payday.
McKeon's position is that he isn't clear about what part of his property, or how much, will be encroached.
The Army Corps will not build where it does not have clearance. Each gap in the dune project creates a passageway for floodwaters that potentially affect surrounding homes.
The legislator refused to speak directly with Townsquare Media News but issued a statement through his press liaison:
"Ocean views and compensation are not the sticking points for thousands of families like mine who are struggling to recover from Sandy. We support the dune project and agree with the recent Supreme Court ruling;
"All we are seeking is a basic “meets and bounds” description, which tells us where the dune will be located on the property, before we sign off on an easement in perpetuity;
"Mayor Acropolis, who has been doing his best under extraordinary circumstances, told residents at a public meeting earlier this year that were he a beachfront property owner, he would not sign off on the easement without knowing where the dune line is;
"The township has reported to residents that it cannot provide the information to us and that we should inquire with the Department of Environmental Protection. I am hopeful that we will get the information back prior to the mayor’s August 1timeline and move forward together."
McKeon has, in the past, taken an avid interest in the health of Barnegat Bay, including sponsoring a failed measure that would have required Ocean County to fund and staff a water management authority dedicated to the bay.